A new era is here! The Third Industrial Revolution comes with a “smart everything” and has only room for renewable energy sources. The digital-ecological-collaborative-sharing economy will revolutionise every commercial sector, disrupt the workings of all industries, bring with it unprecedented new economic opportunities, put millions of people back to work, and create a more sustainable low-carbon society to mitigate climate change. With the help of Jeremy Rifkin, we guide you through the ideal foundations any good brand or social enterprise should be built on. Enjoy the good news!
“The Third Industrial Revolution will be the last of the great industrial revolutions and (it) will lay the foundation infrastructure for an emerging Collaborative Age. Its completion will signal the end of a two hundred year saga characterized by industrious thinking, entrepreneurial markets and mass labour workforces.” Jeremy Rifkin
Whether you are sceptical that we can change the world or not, there is something we cannot deny. The current economic cycle is drawing to a close, and we are heading to what Jeremy Rifkin calls the Third Industrial Revolution.
We are moving towards a green energy revolution because we have almost exhausted every single fossil fuel resource that was available (such as coal, oil or gas). And yet, we are so dependant on them: we grow our food in petrochemical fertilisers and pesticides. Most of our construction materials and the vast majority of our pharmaceutical products are made of fossil fuels as well as our packaging materials and clothes. Our power, heat, light and transport are also reliant on fossil fuels. The price of virtually every good and service in today’s global economy is dependent on the price of oil – which keeps raising on a regular basis and is also the reason why we are looking at four-year cycles of growth and collapse.
How can we turn this crisis into an opportunity?
Rifkin refers to historical facts to prove that every energy revolution goes with a communication revolution. The 19th century was the age at which print was born, and it only got cheap and accessible to society when steam power and coal was introduced. This enabled a print-literate workforce (with a massive effect in education, business, politics and culture) with the communication skills to lead the First Industrial Revolution. Again, in the 20th century, the telephone, radio and later on the television was born – only when a centralised electricity system was available. Parallel to that, oil-power combustion engines massively increased the access to cars, construction and general mass consumption.
If we follow the same pattern for our age, the Third Industrial Revolution is basically about converging the current energy trend with our most precious communication tool: renewables with the Internet.
“We are in the early stages of a convergence of Internet communication technology with a new form of energy that is by nature distributed and has to be managed collaboratively and scales laterally. We’re making a great transition to distributed renewable energy sources.” Jeremy Rifkin
Why and how we should work to shape the Third Industrial Revolution
The energy used currently is very limited. Coal, oil, gas… are only found in a few places and require significant military and geopolitical investments and massive finance capital, which makes it really expensive (not to say how our planet is paying dearly for it!)
Compare this with the natural resources: sun, wind, geothermal heat, biomass, garbage, agricultural and forest waste, ocean tides and waves. It is available right there and we are smarter than ever, in the sense that we have the technology available to provide a sustainable source of energy, with the potential scale capacity to the entire world.
When it comes to the most innovative materials we can find bamboo (check out Sasa Collective or Yourstraw) or hemp (Mandala Dream Co. explains all the potential uses behind this very sustainable plant, but many other brands are also starting to use it such as Arreai Collective.Sun, wind, geothermal heat, biomass, garbage, agricultural and forest waste, ocean tides and waves: we have the technology available to provide a #sustainable source of energy, with the potential scale capacity to the entire world.… Click To Tweet
But how can we enable a green Third Industrial Revolution?
Jeremy Rifkin developed a plan for the European Parliament in 2007. With the aim to convert a third part of the electricity into green, the challenge now is to reconvert all the infrastructure in its full potential to shift to renewables. To start with, 191 million buildings in the EU should have green power plants set up in the roofs to collect solar energy, wind energy off the sides of the building, geothermal energy from the ground below the building and biomass energy from the conversion of garbage in the building. WOW right?
Internet and digitalisation is the next key element, hatching an automated Transportation and Logistics Internet, to create a super-Internet of Things (IoT). In the Internet of Things era, sensors will be embedded into every device and appliance, allowing them to communicate with each other and Internet users, providing up to the moment data on the managing, powering, and moving of economic activity in a smart digital era.
Already, 14 billion sensors are attached to resource flows, warehouses, road systems, factory production lines, the electricity transmission grid, offices, homes, stores, and vehicles, continually monitoring their status and performance and feeding big data back to the Communication Internet, Energy Internet, and Transportation and Logistics Internet. YES, Big Data to its fullest.
With the super-Internet of Things, sensors will be embedded into every device & appliance, allowing them to communicate with each other & Internet users, providing up to the moment data on the managing, powering & moving… Click To Tweet
“The reason for Big Data and analytics is to develop algorithms that speed efficiency, increase productivity, and dramatically lower the marginal cost of producing and distributing physical things, making businesses more competitive in the global marketplace.” Jeremy Rifkin
Who is going to bring this infrastructure to life?
GOOD NEWS! In Rifkin’s words: “Converting the entire building infrastructure will generate millions of jobs and create new opportunities for thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises stretching over a 40-year period.” So we guess that these are incredible news for those who were panicking about the digitalisation and robotisation of the workforce, which could carry on the massive reduction of employment.
But wait, because there is more: other challenges that we face is to store the energy with small loss, which can be handled with flywheels, batteries, water pumping, as well as hydrogen.
Of course, not all countries have the sun, the wind or the water, so here it becomes crucial to be able to share the green electricity. Here is where Internet technology comes to the front stage, with a system that allows us to share or sell the surplus: a collaborative energy Internet that gives access to all regions and continents.
Aligned with the shared economy system, there is a belief that thousands of warehouses and distribution centres might establish cooperatives to share unused spaces, allowing carriers to drop off and pick up shipments using the most efficient path on route to their destination.
And of course the cars and public transport: “The idea is to plug in electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles into the buildings to power up our vehicles. And then wherever you travel, you can plug back in and get electricity from the grid—or sell your car’s electricity back to the grid if the price is right.” says Rifkin.Not all countries have sun, wind or water, so it's crucial to share green electricity. Here is where Internet #technology comes to the front stage, with a system that allows us to share or sell the surplus: a #collaborativeeconomy… Click To Tweet
Not to mention that young people prefer access to mobility over ownership of vehicles. Future generations will likely never own vehicles again in a smartly automated mobility era. For every vehicle shared, 15 vehicles are eliminated from production. As per Larry Burns, the former Executive Vice President of General Motors, on his study of mobility patterns, “we will eliminate 80% of the vehicles currently on the road, and provide the same, or better, mobility at a lesser cost”.
These are all conversations happening in Third Industrial Revolution Global CEO Business Roundtable, for which Jeremy Rifkin is the chairman. Here, more than 100 companies—many of whom are the main players in the renewable energy industry, the construction industry, urban planning and architecture, IT, and global logistics and transport are bringing their expertise to help political jurisdictions, the local business community and civil society to set up the guidelines for transition to a new economic era.
We already have hundreds of thousands of people making their own green energy, and pretty soon it’s going to be tens of millions and then hundreds of millions of people generating their own energy. If you decide to not play the green game (…) fossil fuels are getting more expensive, and you’re going to be increasingly taxed because of the mounting bill for climate change—not to mention the fact that your old centralized electricity grids are inefficient and increasingly dysfunctional. Jeremy Rifkin
Early adopters of the green energy will hopefully soon experience better prices and incentives to encourage everyone to transform buildings into renewable power facilities. Like with the electric cars, we can already see an expansion of this technology.
Are you one of those brands or businesses that is playing the ecological game? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story and contribute to this platform!
What about the developing countries, are they suited to transition into the new economic paradigm?
Rifkin believes that developing countries can move quickly into the new economic era because in many instances they lack any kind of infrastructure, so there is no such having to readapt the whole facilities. Also, they have ample green renewable energy and they can scale locally and then, with the Wi-Fi, connect their microgrids across regions.
We didn’t anticipate millions of people getting cell phones virtually overnight in sub-Saharan Africa where there wasn’t even a developed electricity grid. They just jumped in and then the cell towers came. Jeremy Rifkin
The flourish of a Sharing Economy era and the birth of the circular economy
We can see our current generations are part of this tribe of change-makers. The proof is that we are changing our mentality: we no longer want to own (a house, a car, new home appliances) but we are more inclined to sharing.
Prosumers (a dot.com era business term meaning “production by consumers”) are not only producing and sharing their own information, news, knowledge, entertainment, green energy, transportation, and 3D-printed products in the Sharing Economy at near zero marginal cost. 40% of the US population is actively engaged in sharing homes (Airbnb and Couchsurfing…), toys, tools, and countless other items in the zillions of second-hand platforms available. And this is only increasing: according to an opinion survey conducted by Latitude Research, “75% of respondents predicted their sharing of physical objects and spaces will increase in the next five years.”
We can see our current generations are part of this tribe of change-makers. The proof is that we are changing our mentality: we no longer want to own (a house, a car, new home appliances) but we are more inclined to sharing.… Click To Tweet
Another recent phenomenon of the sharing economy is the coworking spaces, a very novel trend for the workplace and for entrepreneurship. The shared facilities enable startups and digital nomads to decide day to day or month by month if they need to grow, change or move in real-time. It’s cost-effective and flexible, providing an overall dynamic environment with a social space to collaborate and practice innovation.
And what about the crowdfunding and fundraising platforms, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe just to name a few?! They are responsible for the birth of thousands of businesses starting worldwide on a daily basis – based on a real demand backed by donations and pre-sales.
Blockchain technology has already made waves globally thanks to its ability to facilitate international transactions without those additional expenses. The key to blockchain is its power to reinvent the collaborative economy as it is based on the following parameters: decentralisation, democratisation and distribution of the profits. Many tech platforms are adopting the blockchain technology for a good purpose, such as Open Litter Map, a citizen science litter-mapping game to clean the planet & earn Littercoins; or ScaleChange, a platform for sustainable shoppers to engage and invest in socially responsible brands. Isn’t it amazing how tech is evolving in a direction where consumers and users can only benefit from a win-to-win situation?
It is all happening, and we hope to see this transformation of (the already old-fashioned) Economic system to an Ecologic system going with a shift from a “profit-driven” to a “purpose-driven” way of making business.Blockchain #technology has made waves globally thanks to its ability to facilitate international transactions without additional expenses. The key is its power to reinvent the #collaborativeeconomy as it's based on decentralisation,… Click To Tweet
Embrace the opportunity and contact us if you are one of those good brands or social entrepreneurs playing the ecological game.
”We have the science, the technology, and the game plan to make it happen. Now it is a question of whether we will recognise the economic possibilities that lie ahead and muster the will to get there in time.” Jeremy Rifkin
ABOUT THE AUTHOR of The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World
Jeremy Rifkin is also the author of The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism. Mr. Rifkin is an advisor to the European Union and to heads of state around the world, and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, DC.
What makes Jeremy Rifkin different from any other historical approach is his framework of interrelating energy with communication facts, instead of considering this as a separate entity.